A Message for Judah’s Kings
1This is what the Lord said to me: “Go over and speak directly to the king of Judah. Say to him, 2 ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you king of Judah, sitting on David’s throne. Let your attendants and your people listen, too. 3 This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! 4 If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. The king will ride through the palace gates in chariots and on horses, with his parade of attendants and subjects. 5 But if you refuse to pay attention to this warning, I swear by my own name, says the Lord, that this palace will become a pile of rubble.’”
A Message about the Palace
6 Now this is what the Lord says concerning Judah’s royal palace:
“I love you as much as fruitful Gilead
and the green forests of Lebanon.
But I will turn you into a desert,
with no one living within your walls.
7 I will call for wreckers,
who will bring out their tools to dismantle you.
They will tear out all your fine cedar beams
and throw them on the fire.
8 “People from many nations will pass by the ruins of this city and say to one another, ‘Why did the Lord destroy such a great city?’ 9 And the answer will be, ‘Because they violated their covenant with the Lord their God by worshiping other gods.’”
A Message about Jehoahaz
10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss.
Instead, weep for the captive king being led away!
For he will never return to see his native land again.
11 For this is what the Lord says about Jehoahaz,[a] who succeeded his father, King Josiah, and was taken away as a captive: “He will never return. 12 He will die in a distant land and will never again see his own country.”
A Message about Jehoiakim
13 And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim,[b]
who builds his palace with forced labor.[c]
He builds injustice into its walls,
for he makes his neighbors work for nothing.
He does not pay them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace
with huge rooms and many windows.
I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar
and paint it a lovely red.’
15 But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
That is why God blessed him.
16 He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”
says the Lord.
17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty!
You murder the innocent,
oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”
18 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim, son of King Josiah:
“The people will not mourn for him, crying to one another,
‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
His subjects will not mourn for him, crying,
‘Alas, our master is dead! Alas, his splendor is gone!’
19 He will be buried like a dead donkey—
dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!
20 Weep for your allies in Lebanon.
Shout for them in Bashan.
Search for them in the regions east of the river.[d]
See, they are all destroyed.
Not one is left to help you.
21 I warned you when you were prosperous,
but you replied, ‘Don’t bother me.’
You have been that way since childhood—
you simply will not obey me!
22 And now the wind will blow away your allies.
All your friends will be taken away as captives.
Surely then you will see your wickedness and be ashamed.
23 It may be nice to live in a beautiful palace
paneled with wood from the cedars of Lebanon,
but soon you will groan with pangs of anguish—
anguish like that of a woman in labor.
A Message for Jehoiachin
24 “As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “I will abandon you, Jehoiachin[e] son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. Even if you were the signet ring on my right hand, I would pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek to kill you, those you so desperately fear—to King Nebuchadnezzar[f] of Babylon and the mighty Babylonian[g] army. 26 I will expel you and your mother from this land, and you will die in a foreign country, not in your native land. 27 You will never again return to the land you yearn for.
28 “Why is this man Jehoiachin like a discarded, broken jar?
Why are he and his children to be exiled to a foreign land?
29 O earth, earth, earth!
Listen to this message from the Lord!
30 This is what the Lord says:
‘Let the record show that this man Jehoiachin was childless.
He is a failure,
for none of his children will succeed him on the throne of David
to rule over Judah.’